19th Century Carved and Gilded Eagle Head Ship’s Carving

19th Century Carved and Gilded Eagle Head Ship’s Carving

$1,815.00

19th Century Carved and Gilded Eagle Head Ship’s Carving, found on the coast of Maine, a finely carved cedar block with open beak, partially articulated tongue, deeply relief carved eyes, row, and feathers. The reverse has a flat cut surface and an open dovetail for mounting.

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19th Century Carved and Gilded Eagle Head Ship’s Carving, found on the coast of Maine, a finely carved cedar block with open beak, partially articulated tongue, deeply relief carved eyes, row, and feathers. The reverse has a flat cut surface and an open dovetail for mounting. The beautifully weathered surface shows layers of gilt paint and underlying gesso or primer and wood.

The family in which this eagle descended had the passed down oral history that the piece dated from the early 19th Century and came off of a whale ship. I am not sure where this would have been situated; the three-dimensional head of a sternboard eagle plaque would be the most likely. It is also possible that the head was originally carved fully in the round, the dovetail was fully enclosed, and the flat cut on the reverse was a later modification to allow display on a wall. If such was the case then this eagle would most likely have been the figurehead on a Friendship Sloop and thus would have dated to the 1880s or later. If this latter scenario is the case then the modifications would have to have been done by the end of the century to have developed so much patina on the reverse.

The eagle head clearly show its age with its well weathered and darkened patina and worn and chipped paint. The reverse unpainted surfaces are also very oxidized, and actually carries the distinct odor of old oakum and ship’s tar. It is structurally sound as can be. The painted surface does still give up some tiny chips. I have displayed the carving on an iron museum stand but it is not ideal.

Measures: 3-1/2 in H x 9-7/8 in L x 2-3/4 in W

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